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英国首相布莱尔03系列演讲之Extracts from the Prime Minister's speech at the London Strategy launch - 12 May

2006-05-31 17:35

  Prime Minister Tony Blair has unveiled plans to reform London's schools.

  He said the capital currently has a two-tier system where those that can afford to will buy their way to educational achievement and those that can't depend on the state system.

  Read extracts from the Prime Minister's speech

  No parent or child in one of the world's finest capital cities should be left without a choice of good primary or secondary school. We need to inject more dynamism and bottom-up pressure for change locality by locality, particularly in the areas of greatest under-performance and parental dissatisfaction. We therefore propose:

  * At least 20 entirely new-build secondary schools to provide greater choice and specialist opportunities for London pupils and to meet growing demand for places.

  * At least 30 new City Academies - independent schools funded by the state - over the next five years, both entirely new schools and replacements for existing weak or failing schools.

  * At least 15 new 6th form colleges, offering greater choice and higher standards in post-16 education, especially where existing provision is poor.

  * A bigger say for parents and local communities in the creation of new schools and colleges together with stronger incentives for such bottom-up change, including the expansion of successful and popular schools. For every entirely new school there will be a competition open to all - including parents groups - to determine who should run it.

  * At least 290 specialist schools in London by 2006.

  * To use the new Leadership Incentive Grant - worth ??125,000 a year for nearly 300 London secondary schools - to improve leadership, and to change leadership teams and middle management where necessary to create better schools.

  * Radical reform will be focused most urgently on the two areas of Inner London where the problems are greatest - Haringey, Hackney and Islington in the north, and Lambeth and Southwark in the south.

  We are also giving greater support to teachers and headteachers in meeting the challenges they face.

  * A tailor-made plan to turn around every weak and struggling secondary school in Inner London.

  * Zero tolerance of violence and disruption in the classroom - and maximum support for headteachers and governors in tackling disruption, including in cases of exclusion to protect the education of other pupils. The government has changed the exclusions system to give greater weight to decisions by headteachers in the interests of their pupils.

  * New fixed-penalty notices are also being introduced to tackle truancy, and we will introduce additional measures as needed.

  It is essential to attract more talented teachers and leaders into London schools.

  * We have already raised the pay and allowances of London teachers significantly - a London teacher with five years experience can now expect to earn ??30,000, and headteachers and governors have greater flexibility on packages to recruit and retain the staff they need.

  * Teach First is bringing 200 of the brightest and best graduates into teaching in its first year with many more thereafter.

  * We are examining further measures, including a new mortgage subsidy scheme to attract senior teachers to the most challenging London schools.

  We want London to lead the creation of the new specialist system we are creating nationwide, and to respond to parental demands. There have been marked improvements in recent years, which we celebrate. But performance across the capital is still unacceptably low. In Inner London, three in 10 eleven year-olds are still failing to reach the standard expected of their age in literacy, and nearly 6 in 10 are failing to secure five decent GCSEs. In 40 schools less than 25% of pupils achieve five good GCSEs.

  We are also sending a clear message to the successful, dynamic heads in London: you will have the maximum freedoms required to deliver excellence. The length of the school day, the type of lessons, the pattern of the timetable, partnerships with business, the involvement of parents, the ethos of the school, the recruitment and retention of staff, ways of making good behaviour the norm, the use of assistants and other support staff for schools, opening the school from 'dawn 'till dusk' to provide additional support - these are all open to school by school innovation.

  I know there is a particular issue with this year's funding. We are examining the issue closely LEA by LEA and will come back to it shortly. But it is clear that over the past six years, substantial additional money is making a difference, not just to schools but throughout the public services. You can see it in the new school buildings, extra books and computers, more teachers and support staff. Today's programme will mean the largest ever investment in London schools.

  But for those who believe in decent state education and public services, reform is fundamental to their future. Our reforms have one common purpose: to open the system, change the 'one size fits all' concept of public service, give the pupil and parent more choice and a better service, and allow the professionals the flexibility and freedom they need to develop that better service.

  We need to drive these same principles through every part of our public services. The public has paid its money. It now expects the results. In our schools these reforms serve a wider purpose: to give every child a fair chance in life. For reform is not the enemy of social justice and educational advance, but the route to it. More decent schools for London and the new specialist system we are creating are not a means of shutting deprived children out of excellence, but of giving them access to it.

  Every young person denied a quality education is a young person whose life chances are blighted. Wasted education too often can mean a wasted life. In today's world, where skills and education are the absolute essence of success and prosperity, failure to develop potential is, for each young person, a personal and national tragedy. To those who say reform means a two-tier system, I say that's what we have today. Those that can afford to can buy their way to educational achievement. Those that can't depend on the state system, not by choice but by necessity. For them, this strategy is the only hope. And we are committed to achieve it.

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